Even without writing a time-travel novel or something experimental where all the scenes happen in random or reverse order, there comes a point when every author should write out a timeline for their book. Some need to do it sooner, some later.

I should have done it soner, even though I’m pretty good at keeping track of things in my head.

I’m very close to delivering the redraft of the book formerly known as ‘Empire of Dust’ (which won’t be its finished title) to my editor at DAW and just polishing a few things before a final read through. Imagine my horror when I realised that an event’s consequences seemed to be happening before the event itself.


I work in Scrivener. It’s a brilliant bit of software which makes it very easy to reposition scenes by moving the scene headers up or down in the binder column. Unfortunately it’s also easy to drag and drop a scene into the wrong place by accident, or to slide a chapter inside another chapter (and it may not even be the one you’re working on currently, so you may not notice straight away). It’s easy to rectify, but only of you know you’ve done it.

I think I did an accidental drag and drop by catching a chunk with my mouse, and then possibly compounded the problem by adding a bit into the wrong place. So without a thorough timeline check I can’t trust the work in progress. I’m now going through it one scene at a time and committing the timeline as it stands (not as I thought it stood) to writing.

I thought it was a fairly straightforward linear story, and indeed it is (reasonably straightforward, anyway) but it just goes to show that you can’t be too careful.

About Jacey Bedford

Jacey Bedford maintains this blog. She is a writer of science fiction and fantasy (www.jaceybedford.co.uk), the secretary of Milford SF Writers (www.milfordSF.co.uk), a singer (www.artisan-harmony.com) and a music agent booking UK tours and concerts for folk performers (www.jacey-bedford.com). She's also a Home Office / UK Visas and Immigration department licensed sponsor processing UK work permits (Certificates of Sponsorship).
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4 Responses to Timelines

  1. Pingback: Updated Blog Archive: 2013 to 2019 | Jacey Bedford

  2. I’ve just started working with Scrivener, and will now approach will a little bit more caution. Not quite got to the compiling stage…

  3. D Slash says:

    I love Scrivener as much as it’s possible to love software, and I use the Windows version, which doesn’t even have everything that the Mac version does.

    The absolutely huge thing that I love about it is the ease with which I can skip all over a project, write chunks, mix and match, and rearrange on the fly. On the other hand, the absolutely huge thing that drops me in the grease is the ease with which I can skip all over a project, write chunks, mix and match and rearrange on the fly.

    I’m a big fan of software that just does what i tell it without a bunch of “idiot stops” (Are You Sure? Really? I’m Gonna Do This Right Now! No Kidding! Last Chance To Back Out! OK, Push The Green Button To Confirm!….etc…) and Scrivener is that in spades. Tell it to do something, and it’s done. So, after a couple of days of rip-through-it-get-the-words-down, slash-and-burn writing, I have to blow the whole thing out to a detailed outline view to make sure that I haven’t done something horrible to my sequencing or a mind-map to make sure I don’t have conflicting logic chains.

    Of course, I almost always have done something weird to it…I actually read through a thing I did and was congratulating myself on how well it flowed when I discovered an entire 2000 word chunk of it that I’d accidentally moved to “Research,” which means it didn’t even show up in the compiled version.

    On the upside, the fact that I didn’t notice it wasn’t there on a fast first read-through was a clue. Turns out I didn’t need most of it…

    • Jacey Bedford says:

      I managed to lose some of the ‘include in compile’ markers that almost cut my manuscript in half. I DID notice those chunks were missing. 🙂

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